I visited on Sunday 26th February 2017 – my 3rd visit.
The Chatuchak ( or Jatujak, or even JJ ) Weekend Market in Bangkok is the largest market in Thailand and possibly in the whole of South East Asia.
According to its official website it has more than 8,000 stalls (but some estimates state up to 15,000 stalls), which are divided into 27 different sections, all set over 35-acres.
Merchandise ranges from the t-shirts & the usual tourist souveniers to plants, incense and jewellery to animals, fish, art, carvings and electrical products.
Chatuchak Market has been open in various Bangkok locations since 1942.
All merchants had moved to the present site at Chatuchak by 1983.
Previously called Phahonyothin Market, the name was changed to Chatuchak Market in 1987.
WHAT TO EXPECT…
The atmosphere is one of business – haggling, buying, selling, chatting, deal-making and frantic calculations on large plastic calculators etc.
It really is a sight to behold – and I suggest the best place in Bangkok for the tourist to buy souvenirs, gifts and all sorts of fascinating items – it’s so huge that you really can find anything you’re looking for, along with many things you never knew you wanted!
But a warning: the size, heat and crowds you will confront are not for the faint-hearted!
Once only popular among wholesalers and traders, Chatuchak Weekend Market is now a “must-visit” on any tourist itinery.
Its sheer size and diverse range of merchandise will bring even seasoned/compulsive shoppers to their knees!
This is where you can literally “shop until you drop”.
On a typical weekend, the market hosts more than 200,000 visitors – mainly locals, but a growing number of “farangs” (Western foreigners) make-up around 30% of the numbers.
Ahead of your visit, sharpen your negotiation skills and be prepared to walk away when the deal fails to go your way.
Then, you’ll either be offered a lower price or simply find the same merchandise at another stall.
It also helps to do a few practice runs before you actually start buying.
After 3 visits, experience tells me that a friendly attitude, patience and big smile are your biggest allies in securing the best possible deal from traders.
Plan to spend at least half a day at the market so it is a good idea to prepare a few things to ensure that your shopping experience at Chatuchak is an enjoyable one.
So here are my 10 Top Tips for visiting Chatuchak Weekend Market:
1/ Take enough cash! (Most vendors do not accept credit/debit cards and it can be a long, confusing walk to the nearest ATM)
2/ Wear light & comfortable clothing, e.g. shorts and a t-shirt and your MOST comfortable shoes.
3/ Protect yourself against the sun by wearing sunglasses, a hat and use a high factor sunscreen.
4/ Bring a backpack shopping bag or shoulder bag for carrying your purchases.
5/ Drink plenty of bottled drinking water – which is readily available from numerous stalls.
6/ As always, beware of pickpockets and carefully watch your belongings.
7/ Plan to go in the morning, as it can get very hot and crowded in the afternoon. A good arrival time is about 10am.
8/ Get a map of the site – free oness are available from one of the information kiosks.
9/ Use the Clock Tower as a handy landmark / meeting point if you get lost. The clock tower is a distinctive landmark. It was built in 1987 on the occasion of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th birthday on 5 December 1987, a cooperative effort of the market administration and Thai-Chinese Merchant Association.
10/ Bonus tip: once you find that item you were looking for, you should probably buy it right away, because the chances of being able to find that particular stall again are fairly remote!
Note: The stalls are all covered with plastic sheeting which retains the heat ( It was 35 degrees centigrade on my visit in February – the 2nd hottest place on earth after Alice Springs in Austrialia!)
A LITTLE HELP…
Buying trips are hard work, particularly when faced with a million different products in sauna-like conditions!. This was my third visit to Chatuchak market, spending a full day there this time, hunting out both old and new suppliers.
This time, I brought a local business-person and translator along – Ann to help with my negotiations and it worked a treat!
She was also great company over lunch and helped me choose some delicious Thai food.
AND FOR REFRESHMENTS…
This is Thailand, so never fear, there is food and drink everywhere!
Try these favourites at a (noisy) food stall whilst you take a break from shopping:
Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork)
Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
And then try a relaxing Thai foot massages at one of the many stalls.
DIRECTIONS / HOW TO GET THERE…
587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand
The weekend market is open on Saturdays and Sundays, 06:00am – 18:00.
Friday – Wholesale Day – 6:00am to 18:00
But come early, ideally around 10am, to beat the crowds and the heat.
You’re advised to get to the market in the morning to avoid some of the crowds and the heat that mounts up across the day. However, many stalls do not open until after 8am, or even 9am, so you may not want to plan your arrival until after 9am anyway.
On the Subway (MRT), travel to Kampheng Phet MRT Station and take exit 1.
You can visit the official website at http://chatuchak.org/
Happy shopping and safe travels.
Thanks for reading my Blog post.
Have YOU been to Chatuchak Weekend Market? Do YOU have any thoughts or tips to share?
If you do, please leave your comments below – Paul